Utila Island, off the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
Staying in the home of Utila native Tempy, and her visiting boyfriend John. Another long distance bike tourist, I met John at a hostel in Guatemala. He’d sold me on the cheap scuba certifications, beautiful reefs, and island culture, so I planned a route along the Caribbean to meet up with him there. He’s already been here over 2 weeks, and I can see how it’s hard to leave the worry-free island life. Down on the main strip, it’s a wild party town. This video captures the party vibe there quite well:
I was happy to be staying at Tempy’s house on the hill, the perfect solace from all that partying, although the Flor de Caña did flow quite freely… We explored many parts of the island, at great food, and of course swam with the fishes in the magical turquoise sea.
Small Dwah-rie (dory=little boat) ride to the far side of the island where we snorkeled and laid out on the beach for an afternoon. John and Tempy both gave me some lessons about how to equalize the pressure in my inner ears, a necessity if one is to learn scuba diving. Unfortunately after a number of attempts, I found that I’m in the small percentage of people who just can’t get their ears to balance the pressure. I tried and tried, but it just hurt too much to descend more than about 12’ under water. So alas. I’ll stick to snorkeling and lounging for now.
Love…exciting and new….come aboard… we’re ex-pect-ing you…. Tempy and John being a pretty damn cute couple.
Utica really only has one main street, on which most of the dive-schools, restaurants, and other stores reside. It’s much less than a mile in length but somehow littered with noisy motorcycles and motorized tuk-tuks, carelessly weaving around the walking traffic with reckless abandon. It’s a big point of contention between the locals.
So as I said, Tempy was born and raised on Utila. So was her Mom’s entire family. But her Dad is from L.A. A crazy genius with mosaic work, he turned a moderate sized lot in town into a giant work of art, The Jade Seahorse.
Over many years, Neil has been filling every available inch of this place with found tiles and other materials, forming rounded twisting staircases, shell-filled caves, and more. He’s built a few guest houses on the property so you can live in his dream if the price is right. There’s also a treehouse bar where you can grab a stiff drink with local cronies.
Curving walls of mosaic shells.
Yeah, it’s really like this. And yeah, he did most of the work himself. And yeah, as you might imagine, talking to him is REALLY interesting…I’m not sure exactly what we were talking about most of the time as the subject seemed to drift about like a piece of wood on a wavy ocean shore, but it never ceased to capture my attention.
The newest addition to the property, an enormous 7 foot tall, 50 foot long dragon that stretches from the entrance along the side of the property.
Back at Tempy’s place a good friend of hers named Rigo brought the materials to make us a huge “machuca”. Basically it’s a seafood soup that is served with a very particularly prepared corn masa, mashed to perfection in a huge wooden mortar/pestle thingy.
As he later showed us, the mashing technique was equally important as the materials and the recipe. Plus a great workout!
Returning to my room one night, I discovered a little visitor behind the doorway… I wasn’t sure what to even due with the thing, but Tempy quickly scooped it up and brought it outside. These things are quite common around here evidently!
Utila is a small little island. Nowhere near as big as Roatan. And most of it is inaccessible swampland. So all the people and roads/trails on the island are concentrated in one small area. Within that one can find some amazing little nooks that aren’t shared with most tourists. For example there are some beautiful deep underground caves with swimmable pools… I won’t say where, but we went, and it was cool.
Lots of stalacmites to hit your head on as you half-crawl, half belly-drag through the very short passages into the cave.
Thinking ahead, John and Tempy brought candles to light up the inner sanctum of the cave by the swimming hole. Otherwise it’d just have been entirely too creepy to get in the black water in a black cave. Well… it was still pretty creepy. Not the most relaxing experience for me, but exciting for sure!
Razor sharp rocks out on a desolate section of coast. One false move and your feet shred like cheese!
Despite the limited distance of rideable roads and trails, I managed to get out and explore the island quite a bit by bike. Managed to find some pretty fun terrain!
An ever narrowing trail through low-lying brush wound through spider webs and scurrying sand crabs to end up at…
A full-sized, paved airstrip! Rarely can I test the land-speed limits of my slow-ass mountain bike on such smooth and straight road. Too bad there wasn’t a fire squad there as I set that runway on FIRE. Though it was a slow burn at that.
After 6 restful days with John and Tempy, it was time to continue South. They had graciously invited me into their sweet life on the island, and it was a true gift. Thank you Tempy for welcoming me into your lovely home!
By stroke of luck I had 3 different meet ups planned with friends and family along my route coming up, and needed to make tracks to meet the first visitors on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. I hopped on the small ferry back to La Ceiba, planning to hit the dirt roads of mainland Honduras on my way South. Of course there were plenty of interesting distractions along the way.
But that’s another story.